USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin’s Stock the Shelves campaign encourages readers to help fight hunger locally through Feeding America Eastern Wisconsin.

Green Bay Press-Gazette

MARSHFIELD – With the coronavirus pandemic creating an increased need for hunger assistance, local organizations — from school districts to food pantries — are working to make sure no one has to worry where their next meal will come from.

Cheryl Hartl, director of Soup or Socks food pantry in Marshfield, said they serve about 200 people a month, which is a 34% increase from right before the pandemic and a 15% increase from September 2019. 

With the increase in demand, Hartl said the pantry is in need of donations.

“The emergency boxes we were giving weekly from March 17 to May 28 wiped out our stock,” Hartl said. “In addition to that, we had to cancel our only fundraiser in March. The two major food drives held in the spring that we depend on for summer, both went online. The demand has not decreased.”

Soup or Socks food pantry, 200 S. Lincoln Ave., offers curbside pick-up to clients. The pantry allows one person inside the building at a time to register. Food boxes are then taken by staff to the client’s car.

The pantry is open from 12:30 p.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Thursday and from 9 a.m. to noon Friday.

One way people can help is to donate nonperishable food and personal care items during regular hours. Items most needed now include chili, stew, instant potatoes, gravy, tuna, salmon, canned pasta meals, tomato soup, shampoo, conditioner and body wash. People also can make a monetary donation by sending a check to Soup or Socks Food Pantry, P.O. Box 146, Marshfield, WI 54449, or by making an electronic donation through Venmo. The pantry’s username is @SouporSocks.

A white board at Soup or Socks food pantry in Marshfield shows the products needed by the pantry. (Photo: Courtesy of Cheryl Hartl)

To help struggling families, the School District of Marshfield also offers free breakfast and lunch to all children in the community ages 18 years and younger. The program serves about 300-400 children each week, said Melanie Hanneman, the district’s food service co-director. Originally set to run from March through August, the program was extended by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and will now run through Dec. 31. 

Hanneman said the best way for people to support the program is to use it. Meals are available for pickup from 10 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. Monday through Friday at Marshfield High School. To order meals, visit 

The Marshfield Area United Way also offers the Nutrition on Weekends program, which provides meals for students to take home with them on the weekends. For the 2020-21 school year, about 169 students in the School District of Marshfield are participating in the program. Another 87 students from surrounding school districts use the program.

Nutrition on Weekends offers students a bi-weekly food pack, each including bread, peanut butter, jelly, cereal, granola bars, carrots, an apple, fruit cups, a banana, oranges, fruit snacks, macaroni and cheese and an additional snack item.

Stock the Shelves campaign

Amid the growing demand for food assistance, USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin launched its annual Stock the Shelves campaign to encourage readers to donate money to help fight hunger in their local communities. Since 2010, Stock the Shelves has raised $5 million for food pantries across Wisconsin thanks to the donations of newspaper readers and support of community partners, including Feeding America Eastern Wisconsin.

In Marshfield, donations made through Stock the Shelves will be directed to St. Vincent De Paul, a Feeding America Partner.

Director Trisha Hebert said the St. Vincent De Paul food pantry, 169 N. Central Ave., has seen a 25% increase in the number of clients it serves since the pandemic began in March. The pantry is serving between 400 to 500 people a month.

Client numbers at St. Vincent De Paul had remained steady during most of the pandemic, but use of the pantry has increased since the federal government’s $600 per week coronavirus supplement ended in July, Hebert said.

The funds raised through Stock the Shelves go toward donating food to partnering food pantries. Readers can steer their dollars to specific local communities in the comment area of electronic donations or on checks made payable to: Feeding America Eastern Wisconsin, ATTN: Stock The Shelves, 2911 W. Evergreen Drive, Appleton, WI 54913.

The campaign runs from Oct. 1 to 31. All donors will be listed in a thank you ad that appears in Thanksgiving editions.

“Over the years this program has helped countless numbers of individuals and families throughout Wisconsin,” said Andy Fisher, chief business executive for USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin. “COVID-19 has impacted many of our families, friends and neighbors throughout our communities and there has not been a more important time to band together to help these people in need.”

RELATED: Stock the Shelves: More Marshfield residents seeking help at St. Vincent De Paul Food Pantry amid pandemic

OTHER NEWS: Stone Press Food Truck brings flavors from around the world to Marshfield

Contact USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin reporter Melissa Siegler at [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter at @Marie2Melissa.

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